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Biotech Catalyst Play: Curis, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRIS)

Now and again here at Insider Financial we like to highlight potential runners in the biotech space to our readers.

These are stocks that have a near-term catalyst (usually rooted in their drug development pipeline) and that wider markets are (generally) yet to focus on in terms of the stock running up ahead of the catalyst in question hitting press.

CRIS Daily Chart

CRIS Daily Chart

We’ve had some real winners as part of this series of highlights, what we call our Biotech Catalyst Plays series, and we’ve got one more that we think our readers should be watching moving into the middle of this month.

The company in question is called Curis, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRIS) and the catalyst is rooted in a development asset called CA-170.

Many reading will likely e new to Curis, so by way of a quick introduction the company is a biotechnology stock, development stage, that’s focused on the development and commercialization of innovative and effective drug candidates for the treatment of human cancers.

The company is based in Lexington, MA and is currently priced in and around $1.50 a share for a market capitalization of a little over $145 million.

So, let’s get to the catalyst.

This one’s lead asset is a drug called CUDC-907 but, for the purposes of this discussion, we’re focusing on the above-mentioned CA-170. Curis picked up the drug as part of a license arrangement with a company called Aurigene, which closed out back in 2015. The collaboration sees the two share development of the asset in a variety of indications, with the primary target right now being solid tumors and lymphomas. The drug is part of a family of drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors (many reading might already be familiar with this type of asset, it’s been a pretty hot topic over the last half-decade or so in this space). These drugs target surface receptors on cancer cells and, in doing so, are able to inhibit some of the key processes that play a role in the proliferation and unchecked replication that’s commonly associated with cancer.

So that’s how the drug works and – right now – Aurigene and Curis are trying to demonstrate this mechanism of action in the real world by way of a phase I dose escalation trial. And here’s the catalyst – the company is going to present data from this study at the upcoming Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) 32nd Annual Meeting. It will take place on Nov. 10, 2017, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, meaning that’s the day to watch – November 10.

What are we looking for as indicative of upside potential?

These sorts of dose escalation studies are in place primarily to do two things. First, show that the drug under investigation is safe. Second, to help the investigator figure out how much of the active compound can be tolerated and – in turn – how much should be used in a phase II study to give the drug the best chance of demonstrating efficacy in an expanded population.

Building on this, then, we want to see two things. First, that the drug isn’t hurting patients that take it. That’s paramount. Second, that said patients are able to take a pretty substantial dose without increasing the rate of adverse events.

If both of these boxes are ticked, we’re going to see the stock run.

And here’s a bonus catalyst – these sorts of trials usually have some degree of efficacy measurement built in. That’s the case here. If the company can shoe efficacy (against a secondary endpoint built around response) then there’s some real upside on offer as the numbers hit the wire.

We will be updating our subscribers as soon as we know more. For the latest updates on CRIS, sign up below!

Image courtesy of Idaho National Laboratory via Flickr

Disclosure: We have no position in CRIS and have not been compensated for this article.

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Biotech Catalyst Play: Curis, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRIS)
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